1 November 2009
On Sunday 1 November 2009 at 9:50am, eight Israeli police vehicles and about 20 heavily armed police accompanied by several municipality officers arrived outside the Gawi family house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem. Despite failing to present a valid court order, they quickly demolished the tent where the Gawi family have been living since they were forcefully evicted from their home on 2 August 2009.
The tent and the few remaining family belongings – chairs, mattresses and blankets, water cistern, gas heater and food – were loaded onto three pick-up trucks and taken away. By 10:10am, the demolition and confiscation were completed.
The tent destroyed today was built to replace the original protest tent that was in a similar scenario demolished and confiscated last Thursday. It was the only shelter the Gawi family was left with since they were forcefully evicted from their home in August. With very limited chances of finding alternative accommodation and in an act of resistance, they continue to live and sleep in a tent, on the sidewalk opposite to their now occupied house.
The new makeshift tent didn’t, however, provide sufficient protection for the family against the changing weather conditions – especially evenings and nights are very cold in Sheikh Jarrah, with strong chilly winds. Over the weekend, during the heavy rains, the family was forced to sleep in an empty lorry container for one night.
The Gawi and Hannoun families, consisting of 53 members including 20 children, have been left homeless after they were forcibly evicted from their houses on 2 August 2009. The Israeli forces surrounded the homes of the two families at 5.30am and, breaking in through the windows, forcefully dragged all residents into the street. The police also demolished the neighbourhood’s protest tent, set up by Um Kamel, following the forced eviction of her family in November 2008.
At present, all three houses are occupied by settlers and the whole area is patrolled by armed private settler security 24 hours a day. Both Hannoun and Gawi families, who have been left without suitable alternative accommodation since August, continue to protest against the unlawful eviction from the sidewalk across the street from their homes, facing regular attacks from the settlers and harassment from the police.
The Karm Al-Ja’ouni neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah is home to 28 Palestinian families, all refugees from 1948, who received their houses from the UNRWA and Jordanian government in 1956. All face losing their homes in the manner of the Hannoun, Gawi and al-Kurd families.
The aim of the settlers is to turn the whole area into a new Jewish settlement and to create a Jewish continuum that will effectively cut off the Old City form the northern Palestinian neighborhoods. Implanting new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is illegal under many international laws, including Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The plight of the Gawi, al-Kurd and the Hannoun families isjust a small part of Israel’s ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from East Jerusalem.